If you decide to immerse in Chinese folk culture, you will discover that drinking tea is an important part of it. Chinese tea houses not only serve delicious tea – they are venues where people delight in their spare time and present a glimpse at the Chinese tradition. Often they entertain their guests with performances such as opera, comedies, magic tricks, acrobatics and more. That makes the tea houses a special tourist attraction.
So how far are you ready to go for China’s best tea?
These places are highly recommended:
1. Lao She Tea House
It’s a circus of a sort. As motley as a casino, it mixes the modern and the ancient in its interior. It’s a place where a lot of enthusiastic artists present their talents. On a daily basis, you can enjoy opera, folk arts, magic, acrobatics and other incredible performances. Lao She presents a colorful glimpse at Chinese culture. Your palate may delight in a variety of teas, sweet desserts, and traditional snacks. It, is an expensive place and the menu is only in Chinese, and it is worth every bit of your time and money. It has had more than 2 million visitors with a lot of celebrities among them.
Tea has a very long, colorful and rich history throughout the years. But it all started in China, thus it stands to reason that it is there that we should look for the origins of the tea and tea processing.
Tea is harvested from an evergreen shrub called Camellia sinensis, but it has some varieties (Chinese tea is made from Camellia sinensis var. sinensis as to Indian Assam teas are made with Camellia sinensis var. assamica.) Indigenous to the East and Southeast Asia region as well as India this plant can now be found all around the world.
Tea has been known through the centuries as a healing remedy for many diseases, such as infections, coronary illnesses, asthma and much more. But what does the process of getting this amazing drink include – from the fields that it is grown to the warm cup of tea we love to drink?
Even though tea comes in a great variety of tastes, aromas, and shape, the method of processing this herb is quite identical.
Japanese people serve their tea with Wagashi. Those are incredibly pretty confections, which have become a part of the tea ceremony tradition and balance the bitter taste of the matcha tea with their sweet paste. Wagashi is made from various combinations of sweetened beans and rice floor – it’s a vast diversity from jellies and sponge cakes, to frozen ices and mocha. In order to indulge in this pleasure, you have to visit a proper tea house in Tokyo, where the ceremony is expertly conducted so that you may appreciate it with all your senses.
1. Yakumo Saryo
This venue is a restaurant and a tea room called Sabo, and its specialty is seclusion. It is in a silent area of the city, and it holds a garden of plum trees and a room with a view to it. It’s a place where tradition meets innovation. For breakfast, they serve “Asacha” – A traditional Japanese Breakfast set, featuring seasonal tea along with rice or porridge and some carefully selected dishes. In the Sabo, you can enjoy fresh Japanese sweets with many variations of tea and liquor. The house also offers a selection of traditional Japanese food souvenirs or gifts made in the region.
Everything stops in England for it’s time for tea.
1. The Bat’s Wing Tea Room, Isle of Wight
It’s such a beautiful place – it looks like the house made of sugar in the folk tale of Hansel and Gretel. Visiting it is like going back in time – an old-fashioned room full of enchantment and very peaceful. They do not serve merely tea. They bake shortbread, cakes, and scones, which are gluten-free! They serve crab sandwiches and soup with sweet potato and rosemary. They sell boutique lacy handkerchiefs. From a tea room, The Bat’s Wing has become a landmark, people are actually booking accommodations near the Bat’s Wing.
Labeled as the world’s second-biggest tea producer and the primary consumer of tea, India is a country with an interesting and complex connection to the plant. In 2013 the green tea consumption had grown by the whopping 50%, putting the country on the fast track of developing an even bigger market for their product. When it comes to tea – India has always been a synonym for quality and tradition.
History of the tea in India
Tea has been used in India as a medicine since 750BC when herbs like mint, licorice, pepper, and cardamom were utilized. The practice of boiling herbs in order to drink them has been referred to in the Ramayana. Later there are mentions of Buddhists utilizing the herbal drink.
Tea became widely popular and commercially produced thanks to the Brits. The British Empire relayed heavily on China in order to obtain their beloved tea. Soon though, it became obvious to England that they needed to find other suppliers for the herb, as China’s monopoly of tea was not in their favor.
The world of tea, tea processing, and tea drinking is endless and we can talk about it for a long, long time. In order to keep you informed, we gathered some of the most common questions about tea we get.
1. What is tea?
Let’s start with the basics. What actually classifies as tea? Tea is made from a shrub plant that originated in Asia called Camellia sinensis. More specifically, the tea is prepared from the leaves of the plant that had gone through processing. The cured leaves are brewed with water and in some cultures with milk in order to get a tasty, healthy drink. In the beginning, tea had more of a medicinal purpose, but now it is a beloved recreational drink, people consume for the simple pleasure of it. There is also herbal tea, and ice tea and other varieties, but this one is the classical one.
Tea…. by now we have given you so much information on it. How it is processed, how it is properly prepared, and what different traditions there are when it comes to tea. But did you know that you can not only drink this magnificent plant – you can also eat it?! Yes! You are reading this correctly.
Burma or Myanmar is the country where this unique and tasty way of consuming tea started. Lahpet which translates as “green tea” (also called letpet and leppet) is a special fermented or pickled tea. Lahpet is considered to be a national Burmese dish, but it also has a very important cultural significance. Hundreds of years ago fermented tea leaves were cherished peace offering between feuding countries. Burmese kings immensely enjoyed this exotic type of tea. They even had a special official to bring it to them at a moment’s notice. A legend talks about U Ponnya – a poet and dramatist, who often presented King Mindon with pickled tea leaves and green tea. They were known to take a lot of time to discuss Lahpet and all its glory.
“Ice tea! Nothing is half so refreshing as a glass of black tea piled high with ice! More than a quencher of thirst, it is a tamer of tempers, a lifter of lethargy, and a brightener of smiles. It is a taste of Winter’s chill, magically trapped in midsummer’s glass.”
― Paul F. Kortepeter, Tea with Victoria Rose
What better way is there to describe this sweet, refreshing drink? There is nothing more satisfying than a big, cold, sugary glass of iced tea to accompany you through a hot, summer day. Bottled or freshly made, iced tea is always a perfect idea when you feel a little too warmish.
This tasty drink is often served with lemon or lime (In the South-West of the US). It is common for the iced tea to vary depending on the countries where it is made. For example, in America, they use black or fruit flavored tea. In Thailand – Ceylon tea is favored and Hojicha is more popular in China.
The recipe of how to prepare iced tea firstly appeared in cookbooks around 1876 and 1877, but this drink had already been known throughout the USA since the 1860s. At the beginning, this sweet, delicious tea was not very widely spread. This was the case up until it was featured on hotel and railroad station menus. During the 1904 World’s Fair, Richard Blechynden made it even more popular.
Tea is a beverage, a ceremony, a commodity, an afternoon tradition, a path to meditation and good tea is much more than a drink – it’s an experience for the soul. With a cup of tea and peace of mind, the life attains new meaning. It’s the most British as well as the most Russian stuff, and as all wonderful things in the world – it has got its lovers.
1.Shennong, the legendary Emperor of China
The name of Shennong can be translated as a God Peasant or a God Farmer and he was a mythical sage, who ruled prehistoric China. Famous as the father of agriculture in China, he also taught his people the use of herbal medicines. He was the first person to ever drink a cup of steaming tea. It was 2737 B.C. and while the Emperor was boiling his water in the yard to purify it, the wind carried into his cauldron of boiling water leaves from a nearby wild bush. He intuitively decided to infuse the leaves and relax, and enjoy the beverage. This is how humanity first learned about tea.
“In the liquid amber within the ivory porcelain, the initiated may touch the sweet reticence of Confucius, the piquancy of Laotse, and the ethereal aroma of Sakyamuni himself.”
– Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Teas
The title of this article looks very much in line with today’s life but it was a name of a book written a few centuries ago.
Japan is one of those mysterious destinations, full of beauty and wonder for all the foreigners who had been lucky enough to take a peek in their culture and traditions. One of the most famous and well-known customs in the Land of the Rising Sun is indeed their enchanting and alluring ritual of drinking tea. It is not a surprise that this hot beverage is the most consumed amongst the Japanese people. Tea has deep roots in the Japanese history and had been a beloved drink to monks, priests, samurai, and emperors ever since it was brought to Japan from China centuries ago.
Tea in Japan was first mentioned by a Buddhist monk in a book from the 9-th century. It is considered that in 805 a priest named Saicho introduced tea seeds into the country. It did not take a lot for this magical drink to become a favorite among the emperors and the religious circles. It is mentioned in The Nihon Shoki or “Chronicles of Japan” – the second oldest book of Japanese history that a Buddhist monk invited Emperors Saga to a temple where he was served tea. Ever since the Emperor strongly encouraged the cultivating and growing of this amazing herb as he enjoyed drinking it immensely.